11:7 “Can you discover 1 the essence 2 of God?
Can you find out 3
the perfection of the Almighty? 4
11:8 It is higher 5 than the heavens – what can you do?
It is deeper than Sheol 6 – what can you know?
11:9 Its measure is longer than the earth,
and broader than the sea.
1 tn The verb is מָצָא (matsa’, “to find; to discover”). Here it should be given the nuance of potential imperfect. And, in the rhetorical question it is affirming that Job cannot find out the essence of God.
2 tn The word means “search; investigation”; but it here means what is discovered in the search (so a metonymy of cause for the effect).
3 tn The same verb is now found in the second half of the verse, with a slightly different sense – “attain, reach.” A. R. Ceresko notes this as an example of antanaclasis (repetition of a word with a lightly different sense – “find/attain”). See “The Function of Antanaclasis in Hebrew Poetry,” CBQ 44 (1982): 560-61.
4 tn The abstract תַּכְלִית (takhlit) from כָּלָה (kalah, “to be complete; to be perfect”) may mean the end or limit of something, perhaps to perfection. So the NIV has “can you probe the limits of the Almighty?” The LXX has: “have you come to the end of that which the Almighty has made?”
5 tn The Hebrew says “heights of heaven, what can you do?” A. B. Davidson suggested this was an exclamation and should be left that way. But most commentators will repoint גָּבְהֵי שָׁמַיִם (govhe shamayim, “heights of heaven”) to גְּבֹהָה מִשָּׁמַיִם (gÿvohah mishamayim, “higher than the heavens”) to match the parallel expression. The LXX may have rearranged the text: “heaven is high.”
6 tn Or “deeper than hell.” The word “Sheol” always poses problems for translation. Here because it is the opposite of heaven in this merism, “hell” would be a legitimate translation. It refers to the realm of the dead – the grave and beyond. The language is excessive; but the point is that God’s wisdom is immeasurable – and Job is powerless before it.